Top News from Palestine/Israel: November 19, 2020

What We’re Reading

Trump Admin Announces New US Policies on Settlements, Boycotts

State Department Announcement: Identifying Organizations Engaged in Anti-Semitic BDS Activities,

“I have directed the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism to identify organizations that engage in, or otherwise support, the Global BDS Campaign.  In identifying such organizations, the Office of the Special Envoy will consider whether an organization is engaged in actions that are politically motivated and are intended to penalize, or otherwise limit, commercial relations specifically with Israel or persons doing business in Israel or in any territory controlled by Israel. To ensure that Department funds are not spent in a manner that is inconsistent with our government’s commitment to combat anti-Semitism, the State Department will review the use of its funds to confirm that they are not supporting the Global BDS Campaign.  Further, the State Department will conduct a review of options consistent with applicable law to ensure that its foreign assistance funding is not provided to foreign organizations engaged in anti-Semitic BDS activities. The United States urges governments around the world to take appropriate steps to ensure that their funds are not provided directly or indirectly to organizations engaged in anti-Semitic BDS activities.”

Also see:

State Department Announcement: Marking of Country of Origin,

“Today, the Department of State is initiating new guidelines to ensure that country of origin markings for Israeli and Palestinian goods are consistent with our reality-based foreign policy approach.  In accordance with this announcement, all producers within areas where Israel exercises the relevant authorities – most notably Area C under the Oslo Accords - will be required to mark goods as ’Israel’, ’Product of Israel’, or ‘Made in Israel’ when exporting to the United States.  This approach recognizes that Area C producers operate within the economic and administrative framework of Israel and their goods should be treated accordingly.  This update will also eliminate confusion by recognizing that producers in other parts of the West Bank are for all practical purposes administratively separate and that their goods should be marked accordingly.”

Also see:

Pompeo: May I not be the last Sec. of State to visit Judea and Samaria,

“US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed his wish that he not be the last Secretary of State to visit Judea and Samaria during his visit to the Psagot winery Thursday afternoon. ‘It is a blessing to be here in Judea and Samaria. May I not be the last Secretary of State to visit this beautiful land,’ Pompeo wrote in the winery’s guestbook…Pompeo’s visit is the first of its kind by an American Secretary of State to Judea and Samaria.”

Also see:

Israeli Soldiers, Police, Invade Silwan To Accompany American Delegation,

“Dozens of Israeli soldiers and police officers invaded, on Wednesday evening, Wadi Hilweh Palestinian neighborhood in Silwan town, in occupied Jerusalem, to accompany an American delegation visiting an illegal colonialist outpost. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic) has reported that the soldiers closed the neighborhood, and assaulted many residents, to facilitate the American delegation’s visit into the illegal colony dubbed as ‘The City Of David,’ which was installed on Palestinian lands.”

Also see: SecState Pompeo tweet – “Wonderful to see the work being done to preserve the ancient @City_of_David and the new discoveries by archaeologists working in the area. Thank you to Ze’ev Orenstein for the fascinating tour of the site of three thousand years of ancient history.

(Commentary) How Trump and Netanyahu made American antisemitism come alive,

“For four years, Netanyahu has equated Jews with the Israeli government, while Trump has made common cause with white nationalists. I wish more Israelis understood why this was so terrifying.”

International Community: Respect the Green Line

UN reaffirms West Bank, east Jerusalem not part of sovereign Israel,

“The United Nations General Assembly’s (UNGA) Second Committee approved a draft resolution Wednesday night from member states by a whopping 156-6 margin, which called on nations to ‘ensure they do not treat the West Bank settlements and east Jerusalem as part of sovereign Israel,’ reported The Jerusalem Post. The six countries opposed to the resolution were Canada, Israel, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and the United States.”

Also see:

UN experts condemn Israel’s demolition of houses in Palestinian Bedouin community,

“…The experts note that Israel, the occupying power, routinely demolishes Palestinian homes and structures in the West Bank and East Jerusalem that were built without a permit. They say the Israeli military has confiscated significant portions of the West Bank as military firing zones, upending the lands and lives of many pastoral and permanent Bedouin communities. ‘The Israeli planning regime in the occupied territory is discriminatory and restrictive, and rarely grants Palestinian applications for building permits,’ said the experts. ‘This results in a coercive atmosphere, where property demolitions, or the threat of demolitions, drives Palestinians away from their homes, lands and livelihoods.’”

Looking Ahead to a Biden Presidency

Seeking Restart With Biden, Palestinians Eye End to Prisoner Payments,

“In a bold move to refurbish their sullied image in Washington, the Palestinians are laying the groundwork for an overhaul to one of their most cherished but controversial practices, officials say: compensating those who serve time in Israeli prisons, including for violent attacks. That policy, which critics call ‘pay to slay,’ has long been denounced by Israel and its supporters as giving an incentive to terrorism because it assures would-be attackers that their dependents will be well cared for. And because payments are based largely on the length of the prison sentence, critics say the most heinous crimes are the most rewarded.”

Also see:

Pompeo makes unprecedented visit to Israeli settlement in occupied territory Jewish settlers in the West Bank confront the Biden reality and dig in for a fight.,

“After four years of a sympathetic Trump administration, Israeli settlers are sobering up to a new reality and digging in for a fight ahead of a new U.S. president expected to revive traditional criticisms of their enterprise. Settler leaders across the West Bank and East Jerusalem predict a return to the old cat-and-mouse game in which they push to expand their communities until the White House pushes back. ‘It’s a constant dance,’ said Sara Haetzni-Cohen, head of a settlement support group, describing the pre-Trump routine of building houses in the occupied territories, waiting for the inevitable condemnations from the United States and other nations and then pausing until tensions abate.”

Who will Biden pick to be ambassador to Israel?,

“Dan Shapiro, Michael Adler, Steve Israel, Rob Wexler and Dennis Ross are all believed to be in the running for the position.”

Biden's First Presidential Miracle: Palestinian Resumption of Coordination With Israel,

“U.S. President-elect Joe Biden harvested Tuesday the first fruits in the Middle East of his election victory: The leadership of the Palestinian Authority took advantage of the transition in Washington scheduled for January 20 to justify the renewal of security and civilian coordination with Israel in the West Bank. The Israeli security establishment heaved a sigh of relief over the decision to renew the ties, the lack of which in recent months it had called ‘a bone in the throat.’”

Also see:


[FMEP Webinar] Annexation and the Aftermath of the U.S. Election: Analysis & Expectations,

“De facto annexation is likely to accelerate in the lead-up to Joe Biden’s inauguration, especially in Area C, as Israel works to take over more land in a rush to achieve ‘faits accompli’ prior to President Trump leaving office. The current trends suggest a further increase in actions against Palestinians, including home demolitions, state-backed settler violence, and the continuing expansion of settlements. To discuss these and related issues, we convened this webinar, jointly presented by FMEP and B’Tselem USA, featuring IMEU analyst Diana Buttu, Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy Executive Director Salem Barahmeh, and B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad in conversation with FMEP President Lara Friedman.”

Chateau Occupation: How Settlers’ Red Wines Are Blurring the Green Line,

“Five years ago, the European Union finally announced that products manufactured in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank would need to be labeled as having come from there rather than from Israel….Not all Israelis were angry, however. Psagot Winery CEO Yaakov Berg, whose vineyard in the Psagot settlement overlooks Ramallah, saw this as a marketing opportunity…While most businesses don’t want to be identified with politically controversial issues, as far as Berg was concerned, European and U.S. politicians and activists trying to push back against settlement expansion and the theft of Palestinian land in the West Bank were only helping his brand.” Also see: For maker of West Bank ‘Pompeo’ wine, emphasizing product’s legitimacy is key (Times of Israel)

Netanyahu said to ask US for okay to advance East Jerusalem building plans,

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will reportedly ask the Trump administration for a green light to advance construction plans in an area of East Jerusalem. According to the Kan public broadcaster, Netanyahu told associates he intended to raise the matter with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who arrived in Jerusalem on Wednesday for a two-day visit.“

Twice refugees: Palestinians in Jerusalem at imminent risk of losing their homes to Israeli settlers,

“Once displaced by the 1948 Nakba, Palestinian families of a historic district in Occupied East Jerusalem are on the brink of eviction after losing lengthy legal battles with Israeli courts.”

Israel plans to expand settlement cutting off Jerusalem from West Bank towns,

“Israel has pushed on with plans to build a new settlement neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem, a watchdog group said on Sunday, warning that such efforts were being stepped up before US President Donald Trump leaves office in January. (video report)

Israel advances plan for elevator at Tomb of the Patriarchs,

“Israel’s High Court is deliberating a petition submitted by the nongovernmental organization Emek Shaveh against the construction of an elevator at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. The group — which focuses on archaeological issues that arise in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — says the project detracts from the character of the historic site and damages its ancient structure. The group also says the initiative is purely political, with the sole goal of pleasing West Bank settlers.”


Palestinians said to quietly return their ambassadors to UAE, Bahrain,

“The Palestinian Authority has quietly returned its ambassadors to Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates after it recalled them in protest of the two states’ decision to normalize ties with Israel, according to media reports Wednesday. Ramallah did not officially confirm the reports, which were carried in Reuters, Saudi-backed al-Arabiya, and the major Palestinian news agency Ma’an. A spokesperson for the PA Foreign Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.”

Bahrain, UAE vote against Israeli sponsored UN entrepreneurship resolution,

“The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain voted against an Israeli sponsored resolution on entrepreneurship for sustainable development, even though both countries are themselves in the midst of promoting joint business ties with the Jewish state.The resolution passed 144-26, with nine abstentions. Arab countries that voted against the resolution also included Egypt, Jordan, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Among the nine countries that abstained were Turkey and South Africa. Sudan and South Sudan were absent.”

US Senators Seek to Stop Trump’s $23 Billion in Arms Sales to UAE,

“Three US senators said on Wednesday they would introduce legislation seeking to halt the Trump administration’s effort to sell more than $23 billion of drones and other weapons systems to the United Arab Emirates, setting up a showdown with the president just weeks before he is due to leave office.”

Israel groups call on UAE to recognise Jewish right to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque,

“An Israeli Jewish organisation has sent a letter to UAE Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Zayed calling on him to recognise the Jewish right to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque, Quds Press reported yesterday. The letter, which was published by the Hebrew news website Makor Rishon, was signed by a number of Jewish groups, including the Middle East Forum – Israel. ‘Perhaps it is time to exercise the faith of both sides,’ the organisations wrote in the letter. ‘By allowing Jews and Muslims to pray on the Temple Mount [Al-Aqsa Mosque] in harmony and consent, without trampling on each other’s rights and freedoms.’ They added: ‘We suggest you join Israeli leaders to visit the place and pray for the success of peace, prosperity and stability in the region for all.’ In the letter, they suggested that a joint visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and possibly also Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas could be historic and ‘will shatter the paradigm and lead to a new era of peace and equality.’”

Bahrain, UAE vote against Israel sponsored UN entrepreneurship resolution,

“The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain voted against an Israeli sponsored resolution on entrepreneurship for sustainable development yesterday at the UN General Assembly’s Second Committee. This comes despite the countries being quick to act on new business partnerships with Israel following the signing of normalisation deals with the occupation, including by establishing direct flights and the opening of embassies before the end of the year. The Gulf nations became the third and fourth Arab countries to establish diplomatic relations with Israel after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.”

Israeli Soldiers Order Palestinian To Stop Work On His Land Near Salfit,

“Israeli soldiers invaded, Wednesday, Palestinian lands in the az-Zawiya town, west of Salfit in central West Bank, and placed orders informing the owner he must stop working on his land and to halt the construction of an agricultural room. The Palestinian, Salah Raddad, said his land is in the Khallet Rmeila area and added that the army claimed the lands are in an area designated as an ‘archaeological site.’ The lands are near the illegal annexation wall, and are located in both Area B and C of the occupied West Bank, under Israeli control.” Also see: Army Orders Halt Of Construction Of Four Palestinian Homes Near Bethlehem (IMEMC)

Palestinians Are Concerned as West Bank and Gaza Hit COVID-19 Records,

“Amid 1,068 new daily cases – the highest number yet – the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are making do in part with a lockdown of institutions and businesses that violate health restrictions.”

Fighting Lawfare/Weaponization of False Accusations of Antisemitism

New Website Tracking Legislation Targeting Palestine Advocacy,

“Palestine Legal launched a new interactive website tracking legislative efforts to silence the movement for Palestinian freedom in the U.S. The new site tracks anti-boycott bills, efforts to redefine antisemitism as a means of censoring criticism of Israel, and other measures aimed at undermining advocacy for Palestinian rights in the U.S.”